August 10th, 2012
08:10 PM ET

Kidnapped by Al-Qaeda: 'Descent into hell'

Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler spent 130 unwilling days with al Qaeda when he was kidnapped in 2008.

He tells CNN’s Erin Burnett how gunmen captured his companions and him and threw them in a truck. That began “our dissent into hell,” he says. Five days and 1,000 kilometers later they were in the middle of the Sahara Desert.

When they told him they were al Qaeda he says, “The bottom of my world fell out.” He says he thinks that he never gave up hope, but “fear was our constant companion. I was terrified the whole time.”

When al Qaeda would take the hostages inside tents to make videos, Fowler says he would always check the ground to see if plastic had been put down to protect against things like blood- fearing it would signal the arrival of his death.

Although he doesn’t know the details of his release he says he knows that “they got some money and they got some prisoners released in Africa.” But he does know that Canada paid no ransom and released no prisoners. “Somebody did [though] and if they hadn’t I would be dead.”

Filed under: al Qaeda • Mali
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